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Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients [Paperback]

Ben Goldacre
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
RRP: 13.99
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Book Description

25 Sep 2012

‘Bad Science’ hilariously exposed the tricks that quacks and journalists use to distort science, becoming a 400,000 copy bestseller. Now Ben Goldacre puts the $600bn global pharmaceutical industry under the microscope. What he reveals is a fascinating, terrifying mess.

Doctors and patients need good scientific evidence to make informed decisions. But instead, companies run bad trials on their own drugs, which distort and exaggerate the benefits by design. When these trials produce unflattering results, the data is simply buried. All of this is perfectly legal. In fact, even government regulators withhold vitally important data from the people who need it most. Doctors and patient groups have stood by too, and failed to protect us. Instead, they take money and favours, in a world so fractured that medics and nurses are now educated by the drugs industry.

Patients are harmed in huge numbers.

Ben Goldacre is Britain’s finest writer on the science behind medicine, and ‘Bad Pharma’ is a clear and witty attack, showing exactly how the science has been distorted, how our systems have been broken, and how easy it would be to fix them.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (25 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007350740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007350742
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.6 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 19,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Goldacre is a doctor and science writer who has written the ' Bad Science ' column in the Guardian since 2003. His work focuses on unpicking the evidence behind misleading claims from journalists, the pharmaceutical industry, alternative therapists, and government reports. He has made a number of documentaries for BBC Radio 4, and his book Bad Science reached Number One in the nonfiction charts, has sold over 500,000 copies, and is available in 22 countries.

Product Description

Review

‘Goldacre has managed to achieve something marvellous here … He has humanised the numbers so they become relevant. More than that, this is a book to make you enraged – properly, bone-shakingly furious – because it’s about how big business puts profits over patient welfare, allows people to die because they don’t want to disclose damning research evidence, and the tricks they play to make sure doctors do not have all the evidence when it comes to appraising whether a drug really works or not. A work of brilliance.’ Max Pemberton, Daily Telegraph

‘This is a brilliant piece of work’ Evening Standard, William Leith

‘This is an important book. Ben Goldacre is angry, and by the time you put ‘Bad Pharma’ down, you should be too.’ New Statesman

‘What keeps you turning its pages is the accessibility of Goldacre's writing … his genuine, indignant passion, his careful gathering of evidence and his use of stories, some of them personal, which bring the book to life.’ Luisia Dilner, Guardian

‘This is a book that deserves to be widely read, because anyone who does read it cannot help feeling both uncomfortable and angry.’ Economist

‘’Bad Pharma’ will confirm his status as a thorn in the side of the medical Establishment – Goldacre’s detailed research would be hard for any drug-company executive to contradict’ Lois Rogers, Sunday Times

About the Author

Ben Goldacre is a doctor, writer, broadcaster and academic who specialises in unpicking dodgy scientific claims from drug companies, newspapers, government reports, PR people and quacks. His first book, Bad Science, reached Number One in the non-fiction charts, sold over 400,000 copies in the UK alone, and has been translated into 25 languages. He is 38 and lives in London.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
94 of 95 people found the following review helpful
By andrewp
Format:Paperback
This is an impressive book on a serious subject which at times really is a matter of life and death. It can be read by anyone interested in the pharmaceutical industry, and doesn't require any previous knowledge of medicine or even science in general.

The tone is chatty enough to keep you interested, while remaining relatively well structured. I think you will get an idea of whether you would enjoy this book by first watching either of Ben Goldacre's TED talks: if you finish watching them and think "I want to know more" then this book is going to be just the thing for you.

There is no hint of conspiracy theory in this book. Goldacre sticks to a sober recounting of the problems, and he is meticulous about backing up what he says with references, with particular emphasis on systematic reviews, which is important given the subject matter of the book. He never gets into politics, but concentrates on actual, proven real-world harms and benefits.

I also appreciate that despite the massive size of the problems he's describing, he manages to avoid despair and gives recommendations appropriate for the different sections of his readership. I thought the section on conflicts of interest was subtly thought-out and proves that Goldacre is not simply "anti-pharma" and has considered carefully how things could actually be changed in practice.

It's by no means an uplifting and easy read, but it is a fantastic book and fully worth the effort. And who knows, even if you're not a healthcare professional, you may be able to contribute to solving these problems by raising awareness.
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61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
By Dr. P. J. A. Wicks VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Disclosure: I do patient reported outcomes research for top 20 pharma companies

I love science, and I love medicine. Truly, some of the most incredible inventions of our species have been the successful development of amazing compounds from antibiotics and antiretrovirals to insulin and levodopa to modern biologic drugs which help us to lead better lives despite illness. And yet, somewhere along the way, the industry that has arguably done the most to improve life for human beings (in the developed world at least) has taken a curious deviation away from science, and lost its way. As it turns out, marketing is more effective than science in persuading doctors to write prescriptions, and it's cheaper too. Full scale clinical trials are expensive, career-making (or ending), difficult, and time-consuming, and often fail to deliver anything like the transformational benefits that older (now cheap and generic) pills once did.

In this thoroughly researched, engaging, and intensely catalytic account, psychiatrist and truth-seeker Dr Ben Goldacre systematically diagnoses the faults not just with pharma, but with the entire system of evidence based medicine, in which none of us are blameless.

The broad brush strokes are that:

* Pharma builds clinical trials with what can kindly be described as "gamesmanship", systematically biases the literature by with-holding data, drags its feet to comply with transparency measures, ensures its message is heard clearer and louder than anyone else's, and on occasion gets caught doing things it knows it shouldn't.
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103 of 108 people found the following review helpful
By F Henwood TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A new drug is developed. You want to find out if it works. How can you tell? The answer is that you count. You take two groups of people with the illness, which you hope your drug will treat. You give one of them the drug and the other with a sugar pill. You count and compare the results. Who gets better and who stays ill in each group? Then you know - as much as one can know for sure - whether the treatment in question actually works.

Well, you do have a good idea if you have done the test fairly. Remember: you must count. If you want to rig the result, then you do not count properly. In science, you must keep a record of the misses as well as the hits. If you want to cheat, then don't count the misses. Only count the hits. Count those who seem to get well after being given your new drug but don't count those who don't. Worse, you don't count bad hits - side effects, for instance, which suggest that your new drug harms rather than cures. Hide unflattering data and only publish the data that make your drug look good.

But that's not all. You can compare your new drug against a placebo as opposed to a decent version of the same drug. You can stop the trial early if you get a run of good results before any bad results spoil things. You can measure surrogate outcomes - i.e. changes in blood pressure - rather than whether people live longer if they get your drug or not. You can pay ghost writers to write up the biased results from your trials and then get academics and medics to rubber-stamp them. You can get your marketing reps to assiduously cultivate doctors who are prepared to promote your particular drug.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent book and speedy delivery thank you
Published 4 days ago by proud
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
It's a book , if your interested you will probably buy it
Published 6 days ago by Mr C
5.0 out of 5 stars If you really want to know what's going on in ...
If you really want to know what's going on in the world of pharmaceuticals then this is a must read!
Published 7 days ago by Pen Name
5.0 out of 5 stars frightening
frightening - plain frightening and you really should read this
Published 8 days ago by Simon Gardener
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you a free guinea pig too?
Are you just a guinea pig? This book explains how easy it is for the big pharmaceuticals to gain access to a free global trail testing ground, i.e. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Vanessa Gabbay
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not as good as I'd hoped
Don't get me wrong, its a good book with a very important message, but it wasn't as interesting or entertaining as bad science, I was a little disappointed.
Published 15 days ago by RichYPE
4.0 out of 5 stars Frightening how those entrusted to look out for our health have failed...
Frightening how those who we trust to look out for our health have failed us.
Published 19 days ago by Faz
4.0 out of 5 stars ANGER! ANGER EVERYWHERE!
Very good and accessible to all levels of knowledge, but you need to concentrate! There are some complicated passages. Also - it will make you extremely angry! Read more
Published 25 days ago by FooFightersFanatic
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad Pharma
Quite a technical book, but it certainly points out the faults in the system of getting new medicines approved. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sheila
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this!
A brilliant book!
I think it is important not to get the wrong message. Because of science and pharma we are all living longer. Read more
Published 2 months ago by T. Forshew
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